Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Officer Brian Klonowski - Will NOT Be Southgate PD's new police chief, due to public outrage over Klonowski's 2004 assault of Gina Falconer

Gina Falconer - Brutally attacked by Southgate police officer Brian Klonowski in 2004, after Falconer turned down his advances. 

Voices for Gina Falconer:

Controversial choice for Southgate police chief will not take job
POSTED:SEP 07 2016 09:40PM EDT
UPDATED:SEP 07 2016 10:24PM EDT
By: Josh Landon

SOUTHGATE, Mich. (WJBK) - The man chosen to become the new Southgate police chief has decided not to take the job after community backlash.

The mayor formally announced the decision at city hall in Southgate that Brian Klonowski will not be the new chief.

Klonowski, a lieutenant for the Southgate Police Department, was on his way to taking the role of police chief when it was announced last month by the mayor.

Controversial choice for Southgate police chief will not take job

Klonowski has a criminal record for a 2004 conviction when a beat a woman he met at a party after she turned down his advances. He served 18 months probation, but no jail time.

"It's astounding. I don't know what all factors were involved and everything but just for it to get to this point I think says something and it never should have gotten this far as far as I'm concerned," said Scott Pruitt, a friend of the victim.

The announcement last month caused backlash -- many residents in Southgate were upset that someone known for assaulting a woman could be the city's top cop.

About 1,200 people signed a petition calling for his resignation from the position.

FOX 2 has learned that Klonowski contacted the mayor last week and declined to take the promotion. The mayor made it public at Wednesday's council meeting.

"I have to tell you there was no motivation as to what made him decide not take the position other than we received communication that he no longer wanted to be considered for the promotion," said Southgate Mayor Joesph Kuspa.

No answered at Klonowski's home when FOX 2 visited, but here's what he had to say in August:
"I understand the unfortunate circumstances -- the embarrassing situation, and it was 12 years ago," Klonowski said. "I dealt with that on three levels -- criminally, civilly and departmentally -- and have attempted to put that behind me and attempted to increase my professionalism."

Puritt is friends with the 2004 victim, and says he witnessed the assault.

"Upon the incident he had the gall to basically state that he was leaving and he was a police officer and there was nothing nobody was going to do," he said.

But it appears that a lot has changed in the past few weeks.

Puritt said he's surprised he turned the job down.

"That really surprised me. I thought we were going to be in for a long fight here, but thankfully we won't have to do that and it couldn't have turned out any better for the police department, but for the city and the community and for everybody involved. I think it sends a good message to the community that the truth does come out and the right prevails."

City leaders say they followed the Michigan Legislature of Act 78 regarding promotions for police and firemen.

Klonowski came in first among other internal candidates in a written and oral exam, and the mayor and city council called him the best man for the job.

Moving forward, the mayor says he will now look at the runner up to Klonowski, but did not give an exact timeline on when a decision could be made.

City looking for new police chief after officer with criminal past turns down promotion
Published: Wednesday, September 07, 2016
By Dave Herndon

After more than a week of outrage regarding his criminal past, Southgate police Lt. Brian Klonowski has declined a promotion that would have made him the city's top cop.

“This past week I was advised that Lt. Klonowski declined the promotion to chief of Police,” Mayor Joseph Kuspa said. “I respect him for making this difficult decision.”

City Administrator John Zech mirrored Kuspa’s remarks.

“I’ve gotten to know (Klonowski) during this time,” he said. “He would have made a fine police chief.”

Zech said, Klonowski had strove to achieve the job as chief, but after seeing the outrage from the public chose to pass on it.

“He put the Police Department and the city above his own ambitions,” Zech said.

Klonowski returned to his position leading the detective bureau.

He was a controversial pick for the job following a 2004 conviction for misdemeanor assault. He pleaded no contest, which is treated as a guilty plea without the admission of guilt in court.

He paid court fines, served 30 days on a work program, 60 days on a tether program and underwent anger management and alcohol counseling.

Klonowski met the victim, Gina Falconer, at a birthday party in Romulus that night in 2004.

Falconer suffered a broken nose and a broken bone above her eye as a result of the altercation with Klonowski. Attorney Michael Rataj said his client, Klonowski, was defending himself after Falconer began swinging the bottle at him.

With Klonowski refusing the promotion, the city will now look to the second person on the list of candidates compiled by the outside company,  Empco Inc., that tested the candidates for the job initially.

Only two candidates passed both the written and oral testing required by Public Act 78 to be offered the job. There is no definitive timeline to verify credentials and work out a contract with that candidate.

“The vetting process is underway,” Zech said.

If the second candidate doesn’t get the job for one reason or another, the testing process will start anew, but still following the protocols laid out under Act 78.

Jeffrey Smith, who took the job as the city’s Public Safety Director, will remain the Police Chief as well during the interim.

Petition to have new Southgate police chief step down has more than 1,100 signatures
Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2016
By Dave Herndon

A concerned resident went to to attempt to force recently appointed Southgate Police Chief Brian Klonowski into resigning.

Klonowski won’t officially take office until Aug. 27. He was appointed as the city’s next chief Aug. 17 during the City Council meeting.

Klonowski was convicted of misdemeanor assault in 2004 after an incident that involved him hitting a woman he met at a birthday party.

According to city officials, and court documents, that remains the only criminal conviction he has ever had.

The petition, which can be found at had 937 signatures within 48 hours of it launching. As of mid-week, early Wednesday afternoon on Aug. 24, the signatures numbered 1,102.
City Manager John Zech said regardless of how many people sign the petition, the city won’t take back the appointment for several reasons.

“I’ve told anyone who has asked to feel free to call me if they think any of our employees are out of line,” he said. “This petition would have to have cause though. There is nothing in the petition that we didn’t already know about.”

While city officials point out they don’t condone his previous actions, they are also quick to point out that by law, he was the only choice to take over as police chief as well.

Southgate operates under Act 78, which provides for a civil service commission. Under that law, the fire chief, police chief and all police department promotions fall under control of that board.

While Kuspa remains the official appointing party, and the Council has to approve the contract, they are bound by the provisions of the Act 78 guidelines.

Candidates for an opening in the police department are given both a written and an oral exam by an independent company. The candidates are then ranked based on test scores, and the top scoring candidate is picked for the job.

The company that administers the tests is Empco Inc. which was founded in 1987.

Zech said there would have to be a pattern of bad behavior in order for the top candidate to be passed over.

“A single misdemeanor charge 12 years ago doesn’t show a pattern of poor choices,” he said. “We don’t condone what he did. He is very apologetic for that.”

If Kuspa had passed Klonowski over for promotion based on a single misdemeanor charge, there likely would have been a lawsuit according to Zech.

Zech said Klonowski has been promoted three times before getting the job as chief, all through the same process. He also attended law school and passed the bar exam.

“They won’t let you have a law license if they feel you are a bad person,” he said. “There is a very strict background check done.”

His experiences as a lawyer have actually aided in his job leading the detective bureau in recent years according to Zech.

“He’s used his knowledge to aid in cases,” Zech said. “That’s been an asset to the department.”

Zech said Klonowski has served his punishment, as ordered by the courts, more than a decade ago and that he deserves a second chance. I think if people look at him as if he was there husband, or brother they would feel he deserved another chance.”

Zech said that as a detective Klonowski has investigated several domestic violence cases, none of which have been handled improperly.

“He handles everything like a professional,” Zech said. “He hasn’t had any blemishes on his record before or after the incident 12 years ago.

“I hope everyone gives him a chance to prove what he can do before they judge him.”

Officer Brian Klonowski - Conviction for OIDV [2004]:
04252004 - Officer Brian Klonowski - Southgate PD - Arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault - Assaulted Gina Falconer - Klonowski yanked Gina out of her chair; threw Gina to the ground; restrained Gina by sitting on top of her; punched Gina in the face. It took FOUR people to pull Officer Klonowski off of Gina - who suffered a hemorrhage to her eye, a broken nose, and a broken bone abover her eye.

08082004 - Officer Brain Klonowski - Sentenced - Southgate PD - Klonowski pleaded no-contenst to an assault charge. Klonowski was placed on probation for 18 months

10132004 - Officer Brian Klonowski - Suspended from Southgate PD for 1 year. HOWEVER, in December 2004, it was discovered that since Officer Klonowski arrest for assault, he had been working in the 28th District Court.